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Last Updated: Thursday, 29 July, 2004, 08:06 GMT 09:06 UK
Burnham testifies against captors
Gracia Burnham
Gracia Burnham came close to tears while giving evidence
American missionary Gracia Burnham has made an emotional return to the Philippines to testify against her suspected former kidnappers.

Mrs Burnham and her husband Martin were kidnapped with 18 others from a Philippine beach resort in 2001.

Martin Burnham died during a rescue mission by troops in June 2002.

Another American man and several Filipinos were also beheaded by the Abu Sayyaf militants, who held the hostages for ransom.

Mrs Burnham is said to have identified six out of the eight suspects on trial as being her erstwhile captors.

Martin and Gracia Burnham
The Burnhams were held hostage for more than a year
"Gracia gave a very smooth narration of her ordeal. It was the strongest corroborative evidence," said state prosecutor Aristotle Reyes.

"She cannot forget them because she ate and lived with them for almost a year," he said.

Mr Reyes said he had shown her a rusty dog chain used by the militants to restrain her husband, as well as a pair of blue rubber boots she had worn during her captivity.

Mrs Burnham is said to have come close to tears as she recounted the death of her husband.

An army raid on 7 June 2002 killed Mr Burnham and Filipino nurse Ediborah Yap, and left Mrs Burnham with a gunshot wound in her thigh.

The eight suspects sat silently during her three-hour testimony, separated from her by a wooden grill.

They face the death sentence if found guilty of kidnapping for ransom.

The trial began this year and is not expected to end for several months.

Gracia Burnham has caused controversy since returning to the US, by claiming that Philippine military officials were colluding with her captors.

She made the claim in a book about her experiences called In the Presence of My Enemies.




SEE ALSO:
Philippine army 'aided kidnappers'
08 May 03  |  Asia-Pacific
Freed US hostage welcomed home
11 Jun 02  |  Asia-Pacific
Arroyo defends hostage rescue
11 Jun 02  |  Asia-Pacific
Analysis: Negotiating with the Abu Sayyaf
11 Jun 01  |  Asia-Pacific
Guide to Philippines conflict
06 Dec 01  |  Asia-Pacific


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